Hyok Kang was eighteen when he escaped from North Korea, a country locked away from the outside world. This personal, illustrated account of school days in a rigidly communist institution and everyday life with his family and community provides a rare glimpse of this secretive nation.
His shocking and moving portrayal bears witness to this spirited young boy's resilience and survival in a society forced to operate under the shadow of labour camps, public executions and the deception of UN representatives by Korean officials. When the famine comes so too does death by starvation of friends and close ones, and Hyok Kang watches as his classmates drop out of school one by one, too weak to attend. All this is normal. After all, the propaganda North Koreans are fed by their government insists that compared to the rest of the world, this is paradise!
Hyok Kang's childhood and courageous escape through China Vietnam and Cambodia to South Korea is a remarkable story that goes to the heart of a nation living under a disturbing delusion of 'paradise'.